Now that the excilaration, thrill and happiness of the previous (and so far only) publication eases, I found myself not knowing what to write here in the blog. So today I thought it might be a good idea to say a thing or two about the importance of daily routine in writing.
When in late March 2013 I took the “leap of faith” and started writing for the first time, I kept reading advice about how important it was for not only the professional writer but for the aspiring one to have and maintain a daily routine around writing. The people who advocated that said that it helped them to be in touch with the story or finish the story in time or not get bored by it etc etc.
I on the other hand advocated at the time that inspiration and, to a certain extent, willingness to sit down and write was not something that would come to the writer whenever he/she summoned it but when it chose to visit the writer. The phrase “I’m not your whore to summon me whenever you desire me” (unfortunatelly I can’t seem to remember who said that reffering to his/her muse but I think it was a Greek poet) was the phrase that kept coming to mind back then. I knew I had to write something each day to be in touch with the joy I got out of writing but I wouldn’t push myself to extremes to write a thousand words. I did however force myself for a time to write a very short story (flash story some would say it) of about 700-1000 words almost each day so I wouldn’t get rusty, IF and only IF I had an image to describe (I like coming up with stories derived from images or photos). I did this thinking that IF I ever manage to land a contract to publish my work, I would have deadlines to follow and it would be better if I were to have some practice on writing on a daily basis. Too many ifs were in my head at that time. Not many things can happen with ifs…
All this changed when I read Stephen King’s memoir/advice called “On Writing”. In it, King said that writers should write each day (weekends and holidays included) up to 2000 word and read as much as possible. He too mentions the reasons I wrote earlier but he also argued that one couldn’t aspire to be a writer without doing that. And for some reason, it was THEN that I decided I wanted to not only write for my pleasure, content on dreaming of being a published writer (at some point in the oh-so-distant-future) BUT I also had to make it happen. I don’t know what kicked in or what happened that moment when I read that line in that book but it was enough to shove me into a different mode. If one was to argue that book failed to teach me anything new, regarding techniques used to write decently, it certainly did NOT fail to motivate me. I don’t know how or why, I just know it did.
I’m glad it did.
Now I write each day 1500-2000 words each day, unless I have some editing to do for a rejected short story (they come in heaps). But, given that I’m not Stephen King nor will I ever be, I have found that working on a project day in, day out for longer than 1 month, I get bored and when that happens I can’t produce more than 300 words. It is then that I take a break and work on something else, usually a new short story or edit something else previously done. I do that for a week or maybe two. Then I’m back at the project I took a break
from. If for whatever reason I have to miss a day’s writing, the rest of the day turns sour, I’m grumpy and I feel guilty for not writing.
Does it work? So far, yes. Does it pay off? YES! Without a doubt, yes! Once I call it a day, I start reading for an hour or an hour and a half (in addition to my reading before I go to bed which is another hour or so). Have I seen improvement on my writing quality? Yes, but that is subjective. Rejections keep coming. I know, however, that it’s probably due to me being at the beginning of a very long and arduous road and due to me writing in a different language than my own.
Knowing that most people who decide to write have day jobs, families etc, I would add to Mr. King’s statement that it’s not important just how much one writes BUT it’s important that it happens on a daily basis, even if it’s for no more than 20 minutes.
I now firmly believe this road leads somewhere. Don’t know where yet.